Storybook Life

Lake Winnipesaukee makes an ideal playground for the Landry-Montbleau family and their 330 Sundancer.

There’s something not quite right about the Landry-Montbleau clan. The three kids are way too cute, their mom way too beautiful, and the man of the house exceedingly charming. One gets the impression upon meeting them that they’re almost too good to be true.

Are they actors? Were they hired to show up at the farmer’s market to somehow make the vegetables look brighter? If so, it’s working. The ears of corn appear sweeter, the apples shinier. Even the animals in the petting zoo act a little friskier when Cyran (15), Clover (12) and Cashie (8) bound up to them with fresh carrot tops. The kids are also just a little too well behaved. Sure, they squeal with glee when the goat licks their hands, but they don’t push each other or whine. They don’t even run when they’re supposed to walk. Nope. Can’t be actors. If they were, they’d be doing a poor job of behaving like normal kids.

Farmers Market

After they fill a shopping bag with local produce at Beans & Greens Farm in Laconia, New Hampshire, the Landry-Montbleau crew head to their Sea Ray 330 Sundancer, kept on Paugus Bay of Lake Winnipesaukee.

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Roger Montbleau and his Sea Ray are relatively new to the children’s lives. Their mother, Charity Landry, and Roger began dating several years ago after they met through the Pelham city planning board. Roger volunteers there, and Charity is the recording secretary. Roger slowly integrated into the children’s lives for a smooth transition. But as soon as the kids got to know him, they wanted him around as much as possible. “Lake Winni” is just a little more than an hour’s drive from Pelham, so it’s the perfect watery playground introducing the Landry kids to boating—Roger’s second love after Charity and the children, of course.

“They adapted pretty quickly,” says Roger, eyeing the kids as they line up on the swim platform and prepare to jump in the lake. The Indian summer day has warmed up to the low 70s, but earlier that morning, fog shrouded the lake and surrounding peaks, keeping temperatures in the chillier 40s before the sun finally burned off the haze. Despite the resulting cooler water, the kids don’t hesitate to make the most of their day out in nature.

They grab hands, and Clover counts down. “One…two…three!” Then she laughs as her siblings splash into the water while she remains dry onboard. Roger takes action. He picks up a squealing Clover and tosses her in the lake after her giggling brother and sister. The kids float around for a bit before climbing out to let the sun still their shivers. Lake Winnipesaukee is the largest lake in New Hampshire and covers nearly 70 square miles. Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains, it’s a favorite for vacationing New Englanders. Its many coves, islands and quaint surrounding towns make the destination an idyllic getaway all summer long and well into the fall as the foliage takes center stage.

Regal Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., looms in the distance. The Appalachian Trail crosses its summit as it traverses the White Mountains. Visitors who prefer climbing it on wheels rather than two feet can hitch a ride on the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the second steepest railway in the world. Peaks closer to Lake Winnipesaukee include those of the Ossipee Mountain Range, where visitors can check out the view from the Castle in the Clouds, also called Lucknow. The castle has an art gallery, museum and café, and the grounds feature an elaborate garden with cascading waterfalls where guests can explore on horseback.

The area is steeped in history, too. At its mouth, Paugus Bay forms Weirs Channel. The channel was named for the weirs, a type of basket used for fishing that was constructed by the tribes who first settled in the area around 1000 B.C. The weirs—when several were used together—created a trap across the inlet that caught migrating shad. Nearby is the popular Weirs Beach, with a boardwalk where seasonal vendors sell souvenirs and ice cream. It’s a favorite spot for the kids to hang out after a day on the lake.

Roger has positioned the boat just offshore in a rocky cove that features plenty of goldand red-tinged maples as well as evergreen pine, fir and birch. The hideaway is the perfect spot for the family to set up a picnic. Roger loads the grill with shrimp skewers first and then marinated steak and turkey tips. “It’s quick,” Roger says of the electric grill. “And it keeps the food juicy.” In the family, Roger is known as “Grill Master,” so it appears he knows what he’s talking about.

After a bag of chips spills on the carpet, Charity raves about the Sea Ray’s durability. “It’s easy to clean,” she says. “When you have a kid weekend, you’re not worried about messing up the boat for your adult weekend,” she adds with a smile, “and, yes, we’ve tested that theory plenty of times.”

While Charity and Roger prepare lunch, Cyran sticks his nose in a book. Roger has taken to calling him “The Professor” for his love of reading and gaming. The girls busy themselves by jumping on top of their brother. He ignores them as best he can until finally he jolts up, reaches out his long arms and proceeds to tickle them both until they are giggling uncontrollably.

Clover takes a minute to count on her fingers. “When he’s in college,” she says of Cyran, “she’ll only be in fifth grade.” She squints her eyes as she double checks the math and looks at her little sister, who simply laughs.

“You know what that means,” Cyran says, addressing Cashie. “That means I get to take your lunch money.” His voice gets louder as he says the last words and he lunges at her for a renewed tickle fest.

The horseplay might be an indication that this trio is indeed a group of bona fide siblings rather than actors brought in to play specific roles. But there’s a distinct lack of the tantrums, yelling or bickering that are common among sisters and brothers their age. Charity and Roger never once have to scold the kids or even ask them to calm down. The children simply interact with each other in a respectful, marvelous way.

Finally, Roger explains the family’s secret. “Charity has her own sort of personal sign language with them,” he says. “It’s hand signals. All she has to do is make a signal and they know. I was mystified when I met them.”

To the untrained eye, the signal goes unnoticed, but Roger points it out later when the kids get a little too excited after scouting the majestic MS Mount Washington steamship. Sure enough, all it takes is a hand motion from Charity, and the children snap to attention like little cadets.

Winnipesaukee regulars like to make spotting the “Old Mount” somewhat of a game. The Boston & Maine Railroad Company built the original vessel in the late 1800s to ferry travelers from one side of the lake to the other. Unfortunately, the ship perished in a fire while in port in the 1930s. The owner, Leander Lavallee, was determined to replace the iconic vessel. He located a steamship for sale on Vermont’s Lake Champlain, disassembled it, sent the pieces via rail and had it reassembled on Lake Winnipesaukee. No wonder people cheer when they see her peek around an island. The ship is also at the center of the community’s unofficial “Ice-Out” contest each year. Locals try to guess the date when the “Old Mount” will be able to make her first spring run from her main port in Center Harbor to her other four ports.

Another famous vessel that makes rounds on Lake Winnipesaukee is the mail boat, Sophie C. The Sophie C delivers mail to islanders and camp kids from June to September and is the country’s oldest floating post office. Tourists can enjoy a cruise on it during the boat’s daily island runs. And those with postal service needs can come aboard to buy stamps, mail packages and even grab an ice cream cone.

But the boat of the moment for the Landry-Montbleau family is the Sea Ray 330 Sundancer. The vessel is Roger’s third Sea Ray. He previously owned a 280 Sundancer and a 310 Sundancer, all bought from Irwin Marine. “They’re amazing,”Roger says. “They really know how to take care of you.”

Roger bought his first boat after laying eyes on it at a boat show. He imagined what it would be like to have a beautiful woman on his arm while cruising across the water. That dream came true after he met Charity. She was the inspiration for the name of his third boat, Cha-Cha-Cha. “She’s a professional dancer,” he explains as he docks the boat back at Spinnaker Cove Yacht Club, “and I am madly in love with this woman.” He gets up from the helm, grabs his gal by the hand and waist and then artfully dips her. She kicks up a long, graceful leg and throws her blonde hair back with a laugh. Actors or not, they’ve got their roles down pat.

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